|Russia and the CIS News Digest
Putin Drives Far East Highway, Dedicates Cosmodrome and Pipeline
Aug. 30 (EIRNS)Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has been on a strategic tour of Siberia and Russia's Far East since Aug. 23, visiting Kamchatka, Yakutia, and, via the new Khabarovsk-Chita highway, the Amur and Trans-Baikal regions. The focus of his visit is infrastructure and enhancing the living standards of the region's sparse populationboth issues which are critical to creating the economic base to build such great projects as the Bering Strait tunnel.
For four days, Putin drove on a 2,500-km stretch of the new Khabarovsk-Chita highway, the first paved road to link the Far East to the rest of the nation. He stopped off to lead a meeting at the construction site of Cosmodrome Vostochny on Aug. 28, and yesterday, launched the Russian section of the Russia-China oil pipeline. Putin said he undertook the long drive "to see with his own eyes how the people live in the Far East," and to discuss with the people who live and work in this vast region such problems as high food and gasoline prices, housing, and health care, Xinhua reported today.
Before he left Khabarovsk on Aug. 27, Putin said that the "constructed highway is not an ordinary event for Russia. I don't want to use bombastic words, but, all the same, this is a salient event for Russia, and has even historic meaning. Our country, occupying the largest territory in the world, has never been connected from the west to the east with a highway," he said. Over the last century, Russia has built railroads to connect the Far East to the rest of Russia, for strategic and military reasons, inclusively, Putin said.
Economic life develops around projects of this kind, Putin said. "We plan to build there several major projects. These are a hydropower station and a future cosmodrome." On Aug. 28, Putin drove to the construction site of the Vostochny National Cosmodrome project at Uglegorsk, Amur Region. There, he told a meeting that building the facility will reaffirm Russia's "high status and leading position" in space technology and exploration. On July 19, Putin had announced that his government would allocate almost 25 billion rubles (over $800 million) to begin construction of the cosmodrome in earnest over the next three years.
"Construction of this facility will provide an opportunity not only to reaffirm Russia's technological status and mobilize our intellectual resources and industrial potential," Putin told the meeting. "What is equally important, the project will enable hundreds and perhaps thousands of professionals and, above all young professionals, to express themselves and their talents and realize their most ambitious plans. And, of course, building this spaceport will serve as a good, solid push for the development of the Far Eastern region of the Russian Federation.... Simultaneously with the creation of technological infrastructure, and perhaps at an even faster pace, we will need to address social problems. A new, modern city that is comfortable in all respects must be built."
Yesterday, Putin met Zhang Guobao, head of China's National Energy Administration, in Skovorodino, Amur Region, for the opening ceremony of the China branch of the 4,000-km pipeline to deliver oil from eastern Siberia to Daqing, China. "This project is important for our Chinese friends and for Russia," Putin said. "For China it means stable supplies and a better energy balance, and for us, it means access to new and promising markets in the Asia-Pacific regionin this case, the very promising and rapidly developing market of China." The new pipeline marks an important step to diversify its energy partners, now heavily concentrated in Europe, to the Asia-Pacific Region, he said. "Our cooperation with China, of course, is not limited to hydrocarbons. Our military-technical cooperation is valued at hundreds of millions of dollars. We are also expanding the supply of machinery and equipment from Russia. Regarding energy, Russia is probably China's main partner in the field of civilian nuclear energy, and here the delivery of Russian equipment is valued in the billions of dollars. By the way, our cooperation with China in this sector [nuclear energy] is multilateral," also involving European partners, including Germany's Siemens, he said. But for Russia, most important is that which helps the eastern regions of Siberia and the Russian Far East to develop.
Sergei Kiriyenko, head of the Rosatom Nuclear Energy State Corporation, said today that Russia and China will cooperate to build commercial fast breeder reactors, Itar-Tass reported. In July, China had launched an experimental fast breeder built with Russian cooperation, as agreed during Putin's visit to China in October 2009, and the two nations should sign a contract by November to build another two experimental fast breeder reactors, he said.
Putin: Far Eastern Russia Will Benefit from Prosperous China
Aug. 31 (EIRNS)The growing prosperity of China will benefit the development of Far Eastern Russia, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told the state-owned Russian news channel Rossiya 24 yesterday. Putin spoke during his marathon road trip inaugurating the Khabarovsk-Chita highway, the first-ever paved road to link Far Eastern Russia to the rest of the nation. It is up to Russia to develop these neglected regions, Putin said; in that situation, having a prosperous and flourishing neighbor is an advantage.
Both Moscow and Beijing have been developing strategic plans for regional cooperation between Northeast China and the Russian Far East Area and Eastern Siberia, and this was on the agenda of Putin's groundbreaking visit to China in October 2009. This huge region of Russia is rapidly losing population and suffers from totally inadequate infrastructure; China's Northeast, 50 years ago the leading industrial region, has become an industrial "rust belt."
The issue was raised by the interviewer's questions about the economic growth of northeast China, just across the Amur (Heilongjiang) Riverand assumptions that "the conditions of our neighbor [China] are becoming constrained because of a fast growing population." Putin said that he did not think that the growth of towns and cities on the Chinese side of the river border, is a result of "China's economic expansion.... China's northern regions are growing now not because of constrained conditions in the country, but because the Chinese government is implementing consistent policies for the economy and for the ethnic composition of its northern territories. I think that we [Russia] will eventually benefit from this, provided we choose an appropriate policy. It makes more sense to have a prosperous and flourishing neighbor than a poor and ailing neighbor who needs permanent attention."
Cooperation with China is not just in selling oil and electricity, Putin said. "Do not forget that we also sell millions, and possibly billions of dollars worth of special equipment and armaments to China, which are high-tech products. Russia should not compete with China in the production of cheaper consumer goods. We are unlikely to win such a competition. Our competitive advantage is different: high-tech products. I have no doubt that we have a good chance of succeeding if we continue our development and progress along this path."
Russia and China Broaden Their Nuclear Power Cooperation
Sept. 2 (EIRNS)During a meeting of government and industry officials from both countries held this week in Beijing, Russia and China agreed to substantially broaden their cooperation in civilian nuclear energy development. China has expressed interest in the small floating nuclear plants that Russia is starting to manufacture, as one of seven areas of cooperation. According to Rosatom head Sergei Kiriyenko, a working group will be set up to assess floating plant prospects for export to China.
Also included in areas of cooperation are exploring for uranium mines, closing down old plants, and, "developing markets abroad," according to Reuters. Russia has reorganized, consolidated, and is modernizing its nuclear manufacture industries, positioning itself for greatly expanded export of nuclear power plants. In the future, China could be in a position to power up export of its indigenously developed reactors.
LaRouche Address 'Best of the Best' at Ukrainian Student Festival
Aug. 31 (EIRNS)Lyndon LaRouche's video address to the Ukrainian youth festival Student Republic-2010 was played at its closing ceremony Aug. 24, and was chosen as the "best of the best" by a panel of Ukrainian and Russian experts attending the event, including political analysts, historians, and others. (His video is at http://www.larouchepac.com/node/15554.)
The annual Student Republic youth festival is attended by hundreds of youth from all over the country, who have been selected through regional conferences organized around the concept of leadership for Ukraine over the next 40 years.
A Student Republic festival organizer noted that the participants considered it very important that LaRouche had taken the time to address this event, and with such a pithy, hard-hitting statement. The students were shocked by his bluntness, but, "he said true things." LaRouche told the Ukrainian youth that the time for decision is now; he described the hyperinflationary policy of the U.S. Fed; and he introduced his concept of an international NAWAPA to the group.